Barbara McClellan

If you have ever written anything — a school essay, a letter, a sermon, a speech, a column, a book — you know the first 10 words are the hardest. When that is done, the rest is a “piece of cake,” most of the time.

I think this “starting” of anything is difficult. Let’s talk about starting spring (or any kind of) cleaning. Now, if you are one of the people (I think I might know two) who wake up each day saying, “Yeah, a new day to begin cleaning. Maybe I will clean the cabinets and replace shelf paper — oh no, I did that last week. Maybe I will clean out a closet and get rid of the things I have not worn in a year. Oops, did that last month. Oh goody, I have not cleaned the fridge in two days, so that’s where I can start.”

If you are one of these rarities, I congratulate you. I wake up thinking, “What dessert can I make, and, if I can find room in the freezer I can double the recipe so I can freeze an extra to have on hand.” I think there must be someone on Earth who likes to do both: clean and cook. It seems to me that those are directly opposing forces, though. An alternative (rare, I think) is to have a spouse, partner, child or friend who likes to do one as the other person does the other.

Speaking of cake, which I am always happy to do, I want to share a new cake recipe from my “other daughter” (I have several of these not by blood, but by love, children) when my three offspring all surprised me at a gathering the day before Mother’s Day. Local son Jeff (my musician kid) contacted his sister (in Austin) and his brother (in Flower Mound) to come to Longview, along with the “other daughter” I have just mentioned, to surprise me for Mother’s Day. This was truly the most pleasant surprise ever for me.

Well, anyway, the aforementioned “daughter” brought a new dessert. She is a superb cook and loves to try new recipes. We all enjoyed this. Lori and I think it could be made no-sugar or low-sugar.

Lori’s Boston Cream Poke Cake


1 (16.25-ounce) yellow cake mix

2 (3.4-ounce boxes) instant vanilla pudding mix

4 cups milk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 tablespoon corn syrup

1 cup heavy cream


Prepare and bake the cake and pour into in a 13-by-9-inch pan sprayed with pan spray according to package directions. Let cool completely before poking holes across the cake with the handle of a wooden spoon.

In a large bowl, whisk together pudding mix, milk and vanilla, but do not let thicken. Pour the thin pudding over the cake in an even layer, poking down into the holes. Refrigerate for one hour.

Chocolate Glaze

Place chocolate chips and corn syrup in heat-proof bowl.

In a small saucepan over low heat, warm the cream until hot (not boiling). Pour hot cream over chocolate chips and corn syrup. Let set 2 minutes to melt. Stir until smooth. Let glaze cool for 10 minutes.

Pour glaze over cake and smooth with spatula. Chill cake for 4 hours or overnight before serving.

Broccoli with Ham and Cheese


3 cups broccoli florets

1 cup chopped ham

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese


Heat slightly cooked broccoli in 2 tablespoons olive oil in skillet. Add ham and cheese. Great main or side dish.

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— Barbara Richardson McClellan is a longtime food columnist. Write her at or in care of the Longview News-Journal, P.O. Box 1792, Longview, TX 75606.